DETROIT — Every now and again, Gleyber Torres does something to remind you that he is not, in fact, a finished product and that he is, in fact, a rookie, with less than 40 games in the big leagues under his belt.
Every now and again there will be a play like the fifth inning, two outs, no one on, Yankees up six runs, the Tigers’ Leonys Martin bouncing a routine grounder to Torres at second — and Torres booting the ball, then throwing it away, earning an error on the play when he should have gotten two.
Every now and again there will be a moment like the ninth inning, Jeimer Candelario popping a ball straight up — “A home run in a silo,” the great Bob Murphy always called them — but flummoxing Austin Romine, who drops it. Still, Canderlario is slow to get out of the box, so Romine gathers the ball and readies to fire it to first base, where Torres should be covering …
… but he isn’t covering.
Those two misplays actually led to two Tigers runs in the first game of Monday’s day-night, makeup doubleheader at Comerica Park, and they were essentially the only blemishes in an effective, efficient 7-4 Yankees victory. And they are notable only in the way they prevent you from getting too far ahead of yourself when you talk about Gleyber Torres.
Which is becoming harder and harder to do.
Torres hit another home run in the game, tying matters at 1-1 in the third and restoring order before the rest of the Yankees onslaught could finish off overwhelmed Tigers starter Drew VerHagen. He is certainly the most dangerous ninth-place hitter in all of baseball with his .317 average and .984 OPS.
(In truth, one of the many remarkable things about the Yankees’ lineup is how absurdly productive the bottom third of the order is. The 7-8-9 hitters had postgame OPS of 1.000, 1.117 and .984. Now, yes: Clint Frazier at No. 7 is a bit misleading [though he did have an RBI single]. But the second number is alleged backup catcher Austin Romine. Add in Torres, and it’s a wonder starting pitchers don’t come up with 48-hour viruses when it’s their turn to face the Yankees.)
He is so good, so young, that even when he has a less-than-perfect game in the field, his manager simply shrugs off the issue as the occasional cost of doing business when you’re trying to shepherd a phenom into your lineup, one who’s playing away from his natural position to boot.
“The newness of that position can’t be overlooked,” manager Aaron Boone said of Torres, a shortstop by trade who will be playing second for the Yankees for the foreseeable future, although he did slide over there for the nightcap on Monday in order to give Didi Gregorius a breather.
His bat can’t be overlooked either.
“More good at-bats,” Boone said. “He just continues to be a threat with quality at-bats being a common theme.”
There’s good, though, and then there’s historic.
Such as this:
Youngest Yankees to 10 Career HR:
Mickey Mantle 19 years, 323 days
Gleyber Torres 21 years, 173 days
Joe DiMaggio 21 years, 216 days
Such are the dance partners available to you when you become a Yankee, because you are never simply joining the present team but everything that’s come before. And even given that standard — let’s face it, that’s one hell of a list to be a part of.
And one other thing: he may have some lapses in the field but as we’ve also seen plenty across his first month and change in the bigs — he’s also plenty spectacular, too. Boone chalked up not covering first on the pop-up to underdeveloped instincts at his new position, but he also praised Torres for even getting to the earlier ball he made his error on.
“He worked hard to get to the ball and get in position,” Boone said. “He just kicked it and then his feet got tangled up.”
He shrugged. Some things you learn to live with. And easily.